Clothes spending rose significantly in December while online charitable donations soared


Restaurant spending also increased steeply – until lockdown measures were reintroduced on Christmas Eve

Thursday 7 January 2020: Bank of Ireland debit card spending analysis has revealed an 18% increase in consumer spending in December 2020, with significant spikes in spending on clothes, cards and sporting goods when compared to the same month in 2019. The analysis also shows soaring online charitable donations – up 84% in the final month of the year when compared to December 2019.

Spending on dining and in restaurants was down by 12% in the full month when compared with the previous year’s figures. However, spending had been trending ahead of December 2019 but fell sharply once lockdown restrictions were re-imposed on Christmas Eve.

With a large section of the workforce working from home since March 2020, it is not surprising to see clothes spending climb by almost a quarter (22%) in the final month of the year as restrictions on social activity were eased.

Spending online fell in December (42% of total spend) from the previous month (55% in November) as people availed of the opportunity to shop more in stores once they reopened at the start of December. Spending online and in store shows that consumers were clearly still keen on keeping active, with spending on sporting goods increasing by 36% in December 2020 from the year before.

Commenting on these debit card spending patterns, Ger Thompson, Head of Current Account Banking at Bank of Ireland said:An 18% overall rise in consumer spending in December when compared to the same month in 2019 does not come as a major surprise, given that many people have had their spending opportunities limited throughout the year. As the country moved in and out of lockdown during 2020 many consumers clearly decided to wait until December to make a large purchase, or treat themselves to an item they had been saving up for.

Christmas is traditionally a time when many people give charitable donations. In the same way that so many aspects of our lives moved online during 2020, in December our records for online donations were comprehensively broken.

As the country re-opened at the beginning of December a lot of pent up consumer demand was unleashed, with the data showing that more consumers went back to the shops once their doors opened. And whilst our analysis reveals that overall restaurant spending fell by 12% year on year, the sector was actually on track to have a better month than in 2019 had it remained open for the entire month. Nonetheless, that sector has had an extremely challenging 2020 and 2021 – so far – looks set to continue in that vein.”

Bank of Ireland debit card transactions – December 2020 versus December 2019

Up ↑Down ↓
Charity donations                 +84%Restaurants                -12%
Sporting Goods                     +36%Entertainment            -3%
Cards, Gifts, Novelty            +23% 
Clothing                                  +22% 
Toys, Hobbies                        +2% 

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